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Bon Appétit will be opting for strawless lids or another alter­native by 2019. Alexis Nester | Col­legian

The summer of plastic straw bans might be over, but Hillsdale College stu­dents will still have to stop sucking.

Bon Appétit Man­agement Company will stop offering plastic straws by Sep­tember 2019.

The movement to rid both the envi­ronment and con­sumers’ bev­erages of plastic straws swept through the United States during the summer. Seattle banned plastic straws, restau­rants across the nation fol­lowed suit, and now the strawless movement — some­times referred to as #Stop­Sucking — has come to Hillsdale.

“Taking steps to reduce single use plastics seemed like a pretty obvious decision,” Bon Appétit Mar­keting Coor­di­nator William Persson said. “It’s not really sus­tainable to keep pro­ducing that much plastic, espe­cially when most straws are not recy­clable. So from a food service per­spective, that’s a small step you can take towards more changes.”

Bon Appétit might sub­stitute paper straws for plastic straws. But since paper straws come with a heftier price tag and a ten­dency to get soggy, Bon Appétit is con­sid­ering other options, Persson said.

Popular alter­na­tives include steel straws and com­postable straws. Neither are perfect sub­sti­tutes, as steel straws often go missing, while com­postable straws require spe­cific tem­per­a­tures and compost bins to break down.

If Bon Appétit’s coffee sup­plier Zingerman’s Coffee coop­erates, stu­dents could even­tually see a strawless lid similar to those used by Star­bucks, which are made of recy­clable plastic, Persson said.

“It may seem a like a small step toward fighting the world’s plastic pol­lution problem, but we think it is an important sym­bolic one to get people thinking about what single-use plastic dis­posable items they really need,” Bonnie Powell, Bon Appétit’s director of com­mu­ni­ca­tions, said in an email. “And since we’re doing it company-wide, that’s almost 17 million plastic straws that won’t end up in landfill or the oceans.”

The decision to banish plastic straws came on the heels of college cam­puses’ straws bans on the West Coast, said Persson.

Dis­ability advo­cates have protested the bans on plastic straws, saying that alter­na­tives fail to provide the flex­i­bility and con­ve­nience of plastic straws, which can help those with impaired motor control.

Bon Appétit still has a stock of plastic straws to use up, so stu­dents will not imme­di­ately notice the change.

“Right now we are at this stance where we are not going to give them to you. They will be there, but it’s up to you to take them,” said Persson. “Come Sep­tember of next year, we will not be offering plastic unless you have a dis­ability and need to use a plastic straw.”

Other restau­rants that removed plastic straws have dealt with con­fused or cross cus­tomers. A few A.J.’s workers quietly admitted to liking plastic straws, but so far there has been almost no student response.

“Usually every­thing we do is con­tentious, so I was sur­prised,” said Persson, referring to the backlash over the to-go cups.

The movement has attracted crit­icism from cynics. Those on the right have dis­missed it as “virtue-sig­naling,” and those on the left have argued it doesn’t do enough to rid the envi­ronment of plastics.

“I think plastic straws are perhaps over­hyped,” said Erin Fla­herty, Con­ser­vation Club sec­retary. “People have just chosen plastic straws as a rep­re­sen­tative thing. But [when] people who don’t use straws but don’t keep in mind the other plastic they are using, it doesn’t make sense to me.”

But Fla­herty said she still appre­ciates the change.

“Things like straws are con­sumed a lot by marine wildlife and that’s really harmful to the envi­ronment,” Fla­herty said. “Reducing the amount of plastic we use here in Hillsdale and espe­cially in the cafe­teria is a really cool way that we as a school can impact and help pre­serve our planet.”

  • Jen­nifer Melfi

    This is great work. Envi­ron­men­tally sound + it’s really a cost savings overall for the business. Now — stu­dents — you need to ask for your share of the savings in price decreases as well.

    • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

      Do you really think they’ll get a rebate on the straw savings? You’re a tough nego­tiator!

      • Jen­nifer Melfi

        No rebates, but fully push for up front savings. This is what major auto­motive OEMs pursue in their pur­chasing strategies, these stu­dents should push it as an exercise in nego­ti­ation and see where it ends up. Better than SJW snowflake nego­ti­a­tions that take place at some schools

        • Alexan­derYp­si­lantis

          You make a com­pelling argument with your ‘SJW…negotiations.at other schools’…LOL

          • Jen­nifer Melfi

            “We advocate for firing of all pro­fessors that aren’t exactly like us” or some other non­sense